Cassie Maynard, RN

In her five years as a nurse at Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, Cassie Maynard, RN, has not seen anything like the global pandemic that brought life as we know it to a screeching halt earlier this year.

While the same is true for most everyone around the world, Maynard and other health care workers were on the front lines dealing with COVID-19. As an emergency room nurse, Maynard knew the possibilities were high that she would encounter a patient with the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, and that she could be exposed to the illness.

“I was fearful that I would be separated from my family if I became infected,” Maynard said. She thought often of her husband, Rocky, and children, Allen, Connor, Kyra and Easton. She leaned into her faith, and followed the guidance from epidemiologists and the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.

“Emotionally, I just trusted in God,” she said. “I would wear a mask all the time … showered when I got home, took shoes off at the door … all the precautions I could think of.”

Over time, Maynard has become more comfortable with all the steps she needed to take to keep her, her family, coworkers and community safe. But information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 continues to evolve as scientists and the medical community learn more about it. Maynard said the daily updates provided by CHI Saint Joseph Health help her stay up-to-date on the latest information about COVID-19.

While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County has been relatively low, Maynard said the potential for a surge as summer – and the reopening of many businesses – requires caution. Saint Joseph Mount Sterling has made many adjustments to serving the community, and the ER will look a little different to ensure safety for patients and the community.

Anyone who enters must answer a COVID-19 questionnaire and have their temperature checked. Everyone who comes into the ER is required to wear a mask, and hand sanitizer is readily available. To meet strict social distancing guidelines for the safety of patients, staff and visitors, only patients and a health care support person is allowed in the emergency department.

“We are following all precautions to make our patients as safe as possible,” she said. “Everybody is in a private room; we have a screening station at the door.”

Anyone who comes to the emergency department with symptoms that align with the coronavirus are taken immediately to a special, negative pressure room, Maynard said.

The past four months have brought continual change, and Maynard said that was the biggest challenge, “especially in the beginning. That and the fear of the unknown.”

But she believes she has learned a lot that will help her in the future. “I have learned to adapt and overcome,” she said.

Maynard expects the situation surrounding COVID-19 to continue to evolve, especially as more is learned about the disease and advances are made to treat and prevent it. For now, though, masks, social distancing and proper handwashing are keys to help people stay safe – all the things they are doing in the emergency room. And don’t be afraid to seek emergency care if you need it, she said.

“I would advise people to continue to follow all the CDC recommendations and educate themselves and support one another,” she said.